Exactly 30 years ago today (May 27), Pastor Michael Conklin took an oath into the office of the holy ministry. The congregation at Rejoice! Lutheran Church celebrated this special anniversary with Pastor Mike and his family immediately following the regular 9:30am Sunday morning service.
Per Pastor Mike, “they said I’d never do it”, according to his dad’s comments at the 20th anniversary celebration. “He never thought I’d stick with it!” But he has, and Rejoice! has benefited from nearly 13 years of his leading the congregational members as they’ve grown in their faith.
Marisa McLelland said, “I truly feel that my faith has deepened in my time here. He’s taught us many things even when we had a difficult time hearing them.” She has much gratitude to both Pastor Mike and his wife, Michelle, for “always being there for us” and for their family’s sacrifice.
When asked what he has meant to the congregation, Millie Carr said simply, “everything. By his actions, he has shown us how God works in our lives.” Others spoke fondly of Pastor Mike for a variety of reasons:
“He’s the best friend I have in Ohio. You could not ask for a better friend,” explained Tom Freborg.
“He is very approachable. He has the correct focus about reaching out into the community. He is not holier than thou,” Marilyn Olzmann commented. “He is down to earth,” per his 17-year-old daughter, Marissa Conklin.
Pastor Mike is known for his love of fishing, and often is joined by others from Rejoice! “Fishing with Pastor Mike is like his sermon. It’s usually only one-sided,” member Dave Boehm said jokingly. Francine McBride described him as a “fellow sportsman. We both enjoy fishing and shooting.”
In thinking about some of the recent challenges of the church locally and at large, Pastor Mike stated, “I remember why You called me and why You do this.” When asked how he decided to pursue the ministry over 30 years ago, he commented, “I had no choice. When God calls, you go. You can run, but He’ll catch you! You can’t run that fast!” As Bishop Abraham Allende said in his letter of recognition for Pastor Mike’s 30 years, “God has called you to this work and God promises to sustain you as you continue.”
Pastor Mike is most proud of all the “precious relationships I’ve had over the years with so many people in various situations and times. That’s what I like.”